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What Are the First Stages of Planning a Wedding?

Karla is a wife and a mum of two who has a passion for event-planning and decorating. She does her own family events including her wedding.

Planning a wedding is a massive task, but doing things in the right order can make it a lot easier.

Planning a wedding is a massive task, but doing things in the right order can make it a lot easier.

Time to Plan Your Wedding?

So, you're engaged! Perhaps there was a whirlwind of romance, butterflies and bubbly between the proposal and finding yourself here. Perhaps you've been engaged for a while, and it's finally time to start planning, but you don't know where to start. Perhaps you're planning somebody else's wedding.

No matter the situation or budget, you've found yourself in the right place. Weddings are so unique to each couple that no two are the same. That being said, strategically planning some aspects of your wedding before others can save you a lot of time and stress. In this article, we'll discuss the first three major steps of wedding planning starting with setting adat. As a bonus, we'll also explore some of the things you can get away with doing before you set a date at all.

The First Steps in Wedding Planning

  • Step 1: Setting a Date
  • Step 2: Budgeting
  • Step 3: Selecting a Venue
  • Bonus Section: Fun Wedding Prep You Can Do Before Setting a Date
There are many aspects of wedding planning that cannot be addressed until a date is set.

There are many aspects of wedding planning that cannot be addressed until a date is set.

Step 1: Setting a Date

When I was planning my wedding, I thought there would be a mass of tasks to do before setting the date, but it turned out that it was essential to have a date booked in order to proceed with the majority of the planning.

Things to Consider When Setting a Date

  • Which season would you like to get married in? Winter, Spring, Summer, or Autumn?
  • You might have an idea for a venue (if not, don't worry—that's next), so you should consider how much of the ceremony and reception will be spent outside and choose your season accordingly.
  • The date of your wedding will affect the price of almost everything, but don't worry too much about it because many venues have set packages. Some services hardly charge anything extra for high-demand periods. If you've always planned to get married in a winter wonderland, then you shouldn't get married in spring to cut the costs.

How the Date Will Affect Your Costs

Most venues and services charge more on weekends, bank holidays, and half-terms. Everything from venues to the wedding cake could be cheaper on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays than the other four days of the week, so if you are trying to keep the costs as low as possible, opt for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and make sure it isn't during a half-term or public holiday. The difference between choosing a Tuesday instead of a Monday or a Thursday instead of a Friday could save you money with all of your suppliers and a surprising amount with your venue.

Summer is typically the most expensive time to get married, so if you're thinking June, July or August (which I was), then you might have to dig a little deeper into your pockets. If you desperately want a summer wedding but feel like you can't afford it, plan to have it the following year! Many places take bookings a couple of years in advance, and this gives you even more time to Pinterest-party your way through your plans.

The Practicality of Your Wedding Date

We are adults now (oh, the tragedy of it), and adulting means responsibilities, working, places to be, and people to look after, so depending on how important your guests are (in most cases, they're essential), you'll probably need to consider any prior engagements that at least your most important guests may have.

The more notice you give, the more likely people are to be able to get time off work and keep their schedules clear for your big day. If you get married and every single one of your guests shows up to the wedding without any problems, let me know how you did it!

You don't have to choose a date before moving onto the next step. If you've read and considered the things above, that's enough for now.

Budgeting can be painful work, but it must be done.

Budgeting can be painful work, but it must be done.

Step 2: Budgeting

You probably already have a rough idea of what you can afford in terms of a maximum budget, but if you don't yet know when you're getting married, it might be fair to say that you can't be sure what your budget is if you don't know how many paydays are between now and the wedding.

That's why the next step is so important. It's likely that you'll revisit your budget more than once, but in planning your own wedding, you're able to really keep control of your costs according to what's most important to you and your spouse-to-be and adapt your plans accordingly.

Your venue is important, as its ambiance, layout, and features will determine many of the specifics of your big day.

Your venue is important, as its ambiance, layout, and features will determine many of the specifics of your big day.

Step 3: Choosing a Venue

The venue can help you make your decision about your date, and your date can help you make your decision about your venue. Imagine your wedding—do you feel the sunshine through your veil as you say your vows, or are you inside a breathtaking building overlooking any icy, wintery landscape?

Do you wish to get married at the same venue where you'll have your reception? Or will you have an intimate registry office ceremony and an extravagant reception elsewhere? Ultimately, it's up to you and your partner, but there are factors that can affect your decision, such as budget, guests and dates. The key is compromise . . . What a surprise, eh?

Important Questions to Ask Potential Venues

• Do you have packages for weddings?
• What is the maximum capacity in the allocated areas?
• Will we have exclusive use of the venue?
• Do you have in-house services such as DJs and caterers"

the-first-stages-of-planning-a-wedding

Bonus: Things You Can Do Before Setting a Date

I mentioned earlier that setting the date for the wedding is essential for most of your planning. There are ways around this. You can choose and buy your dress before you set the date; there's nothing stopping you. You could choose your nail design, hair style, make-up and shoes. Your other half can choose everything they will need.

I recommend Google Keep for planning, and I recommend captioning your photos in Google Photos so that for instance, if you took a screenshot of the shoes you have chosen to wear for the wedding (showing the price, if possible) to make future budget breakdowns easier and showing the website name so you know where to shop when the time comes, then you can go to Google Photos and caption that screenshot "my wedding shoes" making it a breeze to find at any time by searching "my wedding shoes."

App tips aside, the reason that setting the date is essential in planning is that you cannot apply for Notice of Marriage without a date, and this must be done a certain amount of time before the wedding takes place and lasts for 12 months in case you have to suddenly change your date. Furthermore, you will be unable to book services such as florists, beauty, caterers, entertainment, etc. until you have a date to book them for. This ties in to the venue decision in terms of whether your venue has things like in-house caterers and whether they are mandatory with the venue.

I had quite the adventure planning our wedding, and our venue fell through 58 days before the big day, so we had to choose a new one and fast, which worked out well because the new venue was a big improvement. Catering through the venue was mandatory, but the in-house DJ was not. We booked him anyway rather than scrambling around to see if there was a cheaper DJ anywhere, but there are outside services you may wish to book that your venue doesn't provide, and you should have no problem doing so.

It Doesn't Have To Be Expensive

If you're on a tight budget, you can book a free-to-hire function room for exclusive use so the venue hire itself won't cost you a penny. It would then be a case of requesting quotes from outside services and getting the best deal from each one. It helps massively to have the date set while acquiring quotes because many services charge their prices over the year (like during peak season and half-terms).

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© 2021 Karla Taylor

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